Monday, 29 March 2010

Letter printed

I don't often venture onto the "Hear All Sides" page of the Northern Echo, but Gill Cartwright's letter last week claiming that the Lib Dems' perceived "silence" about BSF "speaks volumes" provoked me to put pen to paper.

My letter has been published today, and here it is in its original form, which is slightly different to the printed version, once the sub-editor got his hands on it:


I can assure Councillor Gill Cartwright that, unlike the Conservative Party, who are committed to slashing investment in new school buildings, the Liberal Democrat policy is for an extra £2.5 billion to be invested in our schools.

We will do this by cutting wasteful and unnecessary government programmes such as the proposed replacement of the Trident nuclear weapon system, the controversial ID cards scheme, the Eurofighter project, the Child Trust Fund and hugely-expensive Government IT schemes.

As I said at the recent Full Council meeting, although the Building Schools for the Future programme, like so many Labour schemes, is wasteful and bureaucratic, we fully supported the Council’s bid for £57m of BSF money to rebuild Hurworth, Longfield and Branksome. We won that money and we want that money for Darlington!

A Conservative Government would mean that pupils at those three schools – one of which is in Cllr Cartwright’s ward - will continue to be educated in outdated buildings that are no longer fit for purpose.

The Conservatives are, understandably, keeping quiet about the true nature of many of their policies. When they do let slip the truth, however, we see them in their true colours: tax cuts for their rich friends, chronic under-investment in our children’s futures and no commitment to closing the achievement gap between rich and poor children.

Yours sincerely
Cllr Mike Barker
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Darlington

1 comment:

ianh said...

A close family member also had a letter printed re BSF, and also found it to be somewhat cut, especially the bits about the Tories funding for free schools.
Full letter was as follows:

I was most dissapointed with the local Conservative views on school investment as promoted by Kate Davies in HAS of 24th March.

An allocation of £57million has been made under the BSF programme to re-develope Hurworth, Longfield and Branksome secondary schools.

This allocation was rightly welcomed from across the political spectrum and represents an investment in the Borough and the future of our young people.

Whilst i would agree that it is the quality of the teaching which ultimatley dictates the success of a school, this funding will finally address the chronic under-investment in the infrastructure of these schools by successive authorities and governments.

Schools such a Hurworth were built in the sixties with a limited design life which has long since expired. If its success as one of the top performing state secondary schools in the country is to be maintained and built upon then this opportunity must not be lost.
This is not spending money for the sake of it as Ms Davies would seem to suggest, it represents essential investment to address issues of failing infrastructure, leaking roofs, overcrowded classrooms and days lost through gas leaks.

As a parent with a child at one of the schools involved I want to see many more generations enjoy the same high standards of education and pastoral care that she has, and this will only be secured by the delivery of this funding.

If the local conservatives really feel that this is investment that the Borough can do without, perhaps they could explain how their party will instead find the money for their much heralded "free school" programme?

I would hope that in the run-in to the election all parties will re-affirm their support and comitment to this vital investment and strive together to ensure its delivery.